Editorial: Incomprehensible Regulation Hurts Indonesia’s Workers

JULY 02, 2015

While many Indonesians now feel that the current government is incompetent, especially in handling the nation’s teetering economy, more people — millions of workers — are in shock to learn that the administration is taking advantage of its own citizens.

Some even feel that the government has robbed them.

Around 60,000 people — and counting — have since Tuesday signed a petition against a new government regulation requiring employees and former employees to wait until retirement age — 56 years old — to withdraw their full pension fund.

Meanwhile, in several places across the archipelago thousands of other workers who have just realized they have been blindsided have taken to the streets protesting the regulation.

The workers’ anger stems from the feeling that the money — deducted from their salary every month and managed by the Social Security Administration Body for Employment, or BPJS Ketenagakerjaan, previously known as Jamsostek — is theirs, and no party can withhold the funds when they want to withdraw it, especially for such a long period of time.

Previous rules governing the Jamsostek scheme stipulated that the full fund could be withdrawn after five years of paying into the scheme, but a new rule that went into force on Wednesday means policy holders now have to wait 10 years – and even then they can only access 10 percent of the fund.

The feeling of injustice is justified as the government unilaterally decided such an arrangement without consulting with workers or giving them the option to continue paying into the BPJS scheme or take their money before it was too late.

We question this new regulation because it really hurts the public. There are more than 22 million BPJS policy holders, many of whom have plans to use the money for many purposes, including starting their own business.

Such a hasty move without clearly informing the workers raises suspicion of fishy business — we are talking about more than Rp 200 trillion ($15 billion) in funds.

The administration is doing itself no favors by further eroding public trust in the government.